Autism, Vaccination Not Linked, Court Says

Citing evidence, not sentiment, a special court of three federal judges on Feb. 12 said it found no link between autism and vaccinations.

The Special Masters of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims ruled that three families in three test cases are not entitled to compensation from the federal Vaccine Injury Compensation Fund because they had not shown that the vaccine preservative thimerosal had caused their children's autism. A judge in one of the cases said the evidence to the contrary was overwhelming. The judges in the other two cases made similar findings.

To ensure that the more than 4,900 similar claims were dealt with in a timely manner, the court divided the claims into three different theories:

  • Theory 1: The measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine in combination with thimerosal-containing vaccines can cause autism.
  • Theory 2: Thimerosal-containing vaccines alone can cause autism.
  • Theory 3: The MMR vaccine alone can cause autism.

Attorneys for the families said they would appeal.

American Medical Association Board of Trustees Chair Joseph Heyman, MD, said the rulings provide "even more overwhelming evidence that there is no association between vaccines and autism or related disorders. Vaccines are one of the best public health accomplishments of all time and have proven time and time again their ability to keep horrific diseases at bay." He called for more research into the causes of autism, adding that medicine "cannot let unfounded myths keep us from giving our children the proven protection they need against infectious diseases."

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued a statement  noting that it hopes the decision "will help reassure parents that vaccines do not cause autism."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, and the Institute of Medicine say they have no credible evidence that immunizations cause autism.

TMA's  Be Wise - Immunize SM program offers free " Vaccine Fact vs. Fiction" flyers [ PDF ] for your patients, in both English and Spanish. It's part of our  Be Wise - Immunize Physician Toolkit for Children  [ PDF ]. Updated in 2008, the toolkit is a comprehensive reference guide on childhood vaccinations for physicians and their staff. Plus, it offers new educational materials for your office and patients.

Be Wise - Immunize is a service mark of the Texas Medical Association.  

 

Action , Feb. 16, 2009

Last Updated On

May 20, 2016